Greece cannot allow a “stability vacuum” in the Western Balkans that could “easily be filled by other non-European forces supporting extremism and revisionism or aspiring to revive empires that belong to the past” and continues to support their accession to the European Union, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said on Thursday, following a meeting in Athens with his North Macedonia counterpart, Bujar Osmani.
“Greece has been historically advocating and actively supporting the Western Balkans countries’ European perspectives… And we will continue to do so, because we believe that this is not just the best, but it is the only road to stability and prosperity in our region,” Dendias said, adding that “the European Union has an obligation to keep its enlargement policy on the table… [and] to provide incentives to those that want to be part of our European family.”
The Greek foreign minister said that Greece stands ready to provide “technical assistance” in North Macedonia’s accession efforts, but stressed that “full, consistent and in good faith implementation of the Prespa Agreement is the way for ensuring the progress we seek.”
Dendias said that while progress has been made in the implementation of the 2018 accord that settled a decades-long name dispute between Greece and North Macedonia, more is needed. He referred specifically to the consistent use of the agreed name and terminologies by all public institutions and private entities, the eradication of the “antiquation program,” the removal of the Sun of Vergina from all public spaces and uses, and the renaming of public roads and facilities.
Dendias said that with “substantial vested interest” in regional stability and prosperity, “Greece can be North Macedonia’s best ally” and “best friend.”
He also thanked the government in Skopje for its alignment with the EU position on Turkey. “It is noted and has been greatly appreciated by Greece,” he said.
Osmani welcomed Greece’s support for its EU aspirations as the “basis of a long friendship” between the two countries and expressed Skopje’s commitment to the implementation of the 2018 name accord.
He said that North Macedonia aspires to strengthen bilateral ties “beyond good neighborly relations” so that the two countries can enjoy a “strategic partnership based on mutual trust and support.”